Garden Harvest: GKH Staffers Share Fond Childhood Memories

By Nikki Tilley | August 3, 2020
Image by Yana Tatevosian
by Nikki Tilley
August 3, 2020

We all have fond childhood memories that make us smile, and for many of us here at Gardening Know How, these stem from the garden. In fact, one of my fondest memories was playing in the backyard patio garden at my grandparents’ house.

I didn’t get to see them often, but when I did, this was the place I wanted to be. Grandpa grew the most amazing strawberries, my favorite fruity treat, and I would always sneak some of those tasty morsels as I played. Then I would sit quietly by the koi pond and stuff my face. He thought the birds were getting them. I still think of this each time I take a bite into a juicy, fresh-picked strawberry – homegrown just like Grandpa’s.

Childhood Memories in the Garden

It’s no secret that getting children involved with gardening or nature in some way can create a lasting impression, and maybe even a passion for growing plants. I posed the question, “What is your fondest gardening memory” to my Gardening Know How family, and it turns out that most of us enjoy eating fresh-from-the-garden harvests!

But many of us also harvested something else – a natural love for gardening. So here’s some of our fruitful childhood memories and a look at how we got started simply by watching our parents and grandparents in their gardens.

Heather Rhoades commented, “My favorite gardening memory is when my mom used to make us stop by the side of the road to pick up rocks for her garden. I was always so embarrassed that someone we knew might see us. But today, for my own garden, I stop and pick up all kinds of free things for my garden and I don’t care who sees me.” Looks like rocks aren’t the only thing she picked up – a love for gardening and frugality lives on.

Becca also admitted to an embarrassing gardening memory. “When I was young, I watched Bugs Bunny eating all those carrots, so I asked Grandpa to plant some. He put in a whole crop and I hated them! I remember them asking me why I’d asked for carrots in the first place”¦bottom line, don’t plant a whole crop for a kid without asking some questions.”

Bonnie reminisced about how her grandpa made ice cream every summer. “Nothing like real ice cream. Grandma would make rhubarb sauce and we would pour it warmed up over the ice cream. Amazing!” Rhubarb looks to be a popular treat among coworkers. Past Q&A member Stacey (we miss you by the way) has fond memories of eating rhubarb at her grandparents. “They would cut us each a stalk and give us a little cup of sugar to dip the ends in. Summer childhood treat!

Lots of harvesting and eating of the pickings, as I did with strawberries, are embedded in many of our recollections – which just proves that garden-grown fruits and veggies can’t be beat. “We had a big vegetable garden in our backyard,” commented Mary Ellen, “and I loved picking the veggies. Sugar snap peas were my favorite. I’d eat one pod for each one that went into the basket.”

Tyler, one of our Q&A experts, shared his thoughts too. “My favorite childhood memories were harvesting all of the produce from the massive gardens my grandparents kept. Corn fields that you could get lost in, tomato patches that you could stuff yourself with (and not even notice that any were missing from the vines), strawberries just the same, and other good memories of abundance. The whole walk was usually filled with learning about the plants that I consumed, and how to grow them.”

Bonnie’s sister Amy said, “My first memory of “helping” mom in the garden was when my sister and I were about 6 years old. We were going to go on our first trip to Disneyland, and if that wasn’t exciting enough, my overworked mom, who worked full time, offered to pay us a penny per flower to deadhead the dandelions since she didn’t have time to weed before the trip. I don’t remember what we made, but it was my first job and I’m sure we spent it on penny candy!”

“Another memory that comes to mind,” she added, “is about feeding our clubhouse members from our garden. We had formed a club complete with tree fort and some of the neighborhood kids”¦ and the job of feeding the members rotated. Some kids brought PB&J sandwiches and another kid brought cinnamon toothpicks (remember those?). When it came to my sister and me, we ravaged our garden and brought Green Gage plums, carrots, apples and green onions. Yep, green onions.”

It’s not just us gardeners that enjoyed plucking the fruits of our parents’ and grandparents’ gardens. Laura had a pet duck as a child that liked to sneak down to the garden and eat the ripe vegetables. “As soon as he heard us come outside,” she said, “he’d try and ‘hide’ by flattening his body close to the ground as he waddled out of the garden. But we always knew when he’d gotten into the hot peppers because he’d have the hiccups!”

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